Archive for the Cannes Film Festival Category

in the works (-in-progress)

Posted in action crime film, Cannes Film Festival, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry on September 27, 2013 by leaflens

Just because a film reached the shores of Cannes doesn’t mean that it’s all that. But we commend it for reaching there, of course. Gujab for Pinoys itetch. But it still doesn’t make it easier to overlook some glaring things that you wish were fixed before they flew this, no? Hmm. Basta.

ojt 0OTJ (2013)

d. Erik Matti

p. Star Cinema and Reality Entertainment

s. Michiko Yamamoto, Erik Matti

m. Erwin Romulo

dop. Francis Ricardo Buhay III

e. Jay Halili

c. Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson, Joel Torre and a bunch of talented actors na nakiki-anniv film mode hehe

Pitch: Prisoners inside a prison are sometimes taken outside to do hitman jobs until it gets complicated because of some souls trying to enforce the law and their conscience chenelyns, among other things.

Catch: Uneven story flow, plot holes act as speed bumps for the narrative to truly progress. Plus ang linis tignan ni Gerald. Kulang sa dumi teh.

This film ought to be good since it’s part of the Star Cinema anniversary hype chenelyn daw this year. The trailer also promised a good premise and a promising technical feast. I wasn’t disappointed in the tech aspect. There are many things in this film that I’m glad I saw — again — in Philippine cinema. For starters, I like it that the night lighting is true to what Manila nights look like. Lagi kong tanong sa mga estudyante ko yan, e: ano ang kulay ng ilaw sa gabi kapag naglakad ka sa labas? Sometime they can’t answer properly but if you’re a very observant person, you would immediately know the answer (Hala, di mo knows noh! Tingin sa labas ng bintana, dali! LOL) and I’m always amused by their answers of uncertainty. Lighting is always motivated in a scene so that means we should know where the light is coming from when you’re staging a shot. Kung sa lamp post, ipakita mong parang lamp post nga. Kung buwan, anong kulay yun, blue ba o puti? Ayan, mga basic trivia na dapat master mo agad if you really are a true disciple of cinema hehe. Charut!

And it’s fine if sometimes Gerald or Joel acts in the dark (although aliw yung isang habulan eksena where madilim ang eskinita pero pagtama kay Papa Piolo, fez lang niya ang may ilaw hehe genius! Umo-Orson Welles lang ang peg hehe.). This is because the film is kind of a noir film, given its subject matter of crime, police work, syndicate chenelyns and stuff like that, which are all elements of film noir. Hm I just realized that they didn’t have a femme fatale image here pala, but they certainly had the beefcakes! Aba, noir na, queer pa hehe. Charut! And no, Shaina Magdayao’s sexy back scenes not included, not enough to be fatale teh sorry. Hm, Vivian Velez as the operator of the syndicate chuva? Hindi rin, not enough skin hehe. Puro bibig ni ati ang nasilayan natin. Pero bet rin iyon.

ojt 1

Kulang sa dumi si koya. Ulingan pa mukha niyan! LOL. Not too convincing as a streetwise thug, this dude. PD dept couldn’t do anything to save his role as well. Hm. Balik sa bahay ni kuya yan, workshop pa.

The musical score is also funky cool in that gritty Manila noir type of way. Bagay at swak sa mga eksena at sa beat ng editing at bagay sa mood ng iniilawan and such. So see, it’s possible pala to have a film from Star Cinema that could play around with such technicalities and shiz. For once, isantabi muna ang typical glossy look ng mga well-polished-appearing dramas. This one’s technically good in my book.

Now for the tricky part. I know Michiko’s such a talented writer and I actually know how sometimes, talent is not enough to have your films made in this industry. That’s why compromises had to be done sometimes, and it certainly felt like it in the storytelling here. I don’t know if it’s direk’s handiwork or if it’s the usual lupon of “creative consultants” they have that scrutinize a film each step of the way. The main premise of the film is actually good — that there’s this syndicate that operates in the city where prisoners are taken out of prison to commit crimes they cannot be convicted with, since they’re already in jail and it’s the perfect crime. Then throw in the classic plot pattern of the wise old man-contender/trainee structure and you have Joel Torre’s older hitman training younger hitman Gerald Anderson as his replacement. Easy. Then foil it with idealistic police officers and NBI agents who try to get the bottom of things even if it will cost them their lives, for conflict. And then add a dash of the usual Philippine government officials and their corruption and yeh, pang-best picture nga siya teh!

Is it me or does it feel like sometimes Papa P's depiction is two-dimensional at times? I know he could flesh out emotions better than this, teh. So hmm ewan na...

Is it me or does it feel like sometimes Papa P’s depiction is two-dimensional at times? I know he could flesh out emotions better than this, teh. I’ve seen it in other films. So hmm ewan na…

But no. There were times when the story sometimes tries too hard to be all that, you know. Too hard to be “street gritty” that it seems like some characters have this necessary quota of saying “Putangina!” several times in one sequence. And it doesn’t help that Gerald can’t say it properly (kulang sa workshop!); it’s like those actors who need to smoke cigarettes in a scene but they don’t even know how to hold a cigarette properly, much more blow smoke. There are also several twists and turns where the politico father-in-law of Papa Piolo appears too good to be true in that “I’m a dirty politico trying hard to be dignified” chenes especially towards the last third of the film where all hell breaks loose and Piolo as the NBI agent is hot on their corrupt tail already. Scenes in this part appear contrived na, like they don’t really know how to end the film yet they know they want a “grand pang-award ending” you know what I mean? Some scenes appeared unrealistic as a result, notably that chase scene where Joey Marquez as the straight cop madly chases the car of the corrupt general behind this whole operation (Leo Martinez) and his security guys don’t bat an eyelash, until the cop asks the entourage to pull over, and then they have this grand majestic Hollywood action film level-shootout (yung hindi nauubusan ng bala ng baril type), in the middle of a quiet (!) intersection in Manila (where where where may ganitong lugar teh)? Eyes, roll, now nah. Lekat. Not to mention that information seems to be handed to the “proper” hands too conveniently, or data is exchanged that comfortably sometimes, like when NBI agent Papa P sniffs out possible leads that could corroborate with the preliminary info they already have, stuff like that. Pero dahil madadala ka nga ng acting, editing, music and lighting, parang ang dali na ring i-shrug off itong mga ganitong detalyeng obvious naman na produkto ng “too many cooks made the broth cuckoo” brainstorming slash consulting. Yes, folks, it happens. Trust me.

Ayun. So sayang, promising nga siya, the elements at least, but it wasn’t enough to deliver the film in full. But it’s a big step for direk ha. I remember earlier works and eyes rolled more often back then, so hmmm… Here, hm… Itinawid naman ako ng baon kong popcorn kaya sige, kumeri na rin kahit papaano heheh. A good work-in-progress, and here’s hoping the next ones could be polished even better. Push mo yan beks! Gow.

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